On the Revoice Conference, “Gay Christianity,” and the Apostle Paul’s Showstopper Words to the Corinthians

Christians cannot affirm “gay Christianity” because the apostle Paul emphatically closed off any uniting of a fallen identity to a Christian one.

On the subject of Christianized homosexuality–the issue the Revoice conference is forcing us to confront–if Paul held the view that these people could retain their fallen sexual identity but break with fallen sexual practice, he would have used different language. He would have restricted his comments to a denunciation and prohibition of past behavior–something like “You used to behave in these ways, but now you don’t.” This is exactly what Paul does not do. 

 

The Revoice conference has caused a stir in evangelical circles in recent days. Basically, it is a conference that stands for the idea that a person can faithfully affirm both Christian identity and a homosexual identity. This is not a new view–see Matthew Vines’s work as one example–but this particular conference charts new territory by looping in numerous figures associated with Covenant Seminary and the Presbyterian Church in America, among other institutions and churches. Covenant and the PCA are complementarian in theology, so to participate in Revoice signals a major shift along the lines of sexual ethics.

I have responded to the promotional material of Revoice for the Center for Public Theology, as have others like Denny Burk and Phil Johnson. My point in my CPT pieceis this: Christians cannot affirm “gay Christianity” because the apostle Paul emphatically closed off any uniting of a fallen identity to a Christian one. Paul does this throughout his writings (e. g., Romans 6; Ephesians 4:22-24), but the showstopper text is 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, with verse 11 providing the key phrase: kai tauta tives nte, often translated “Such were some of you.”

In the NASB, here are all three verses:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Context is key here. As is well-known, the Corinthian church existed in a sea of iniquity. Corinth was the San Francisco of its day in sexual terms; behaviors and identities that were scandalous elsewhere were prevalent in Corinth. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, numerous born-again believers in the Corinthian church had gratuitously indulged their lusts as unbelievers. Paul explicitly says as much in the passage quoted above. In other words, Paul is not speaking of sexual sin (in terms of both practice and identity) as if it is a problem for some group somewhere else; in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, he is speaking directly to former homosexuals, drunkards, cheats, idolaters, adulterers, and more. He is writing to a group of people who formerly lived to gratify the lusts of the flesh in seemingly every direction.

Read More